Rangers rally stuns Stuttgart
Rangers made an ideal start to their Champions League campaign as they came from behind to defeat Stuttgart 2-1.
By Lewis Rutledge
Last Updated: 19/09/07 10:49pm
Rangers made an ideal start to their UEFA Champions League Group E campaign as they came from behind to defeat Stuttgart 2-1.
In a group which also contains European heavyweights Barcelona and Lyon, Rangers would have targeted three points from their home game against Stuttgart.
But it was the Bundesliga champions who bossed the first half, with Rangers only threatening when Jean-Claude Darcheville, ploughing a lone furrow up front, produced a superb run from the halfway line that ended in a fine save from German goalkeeper Raphael Schafer.
Stuttgart were rewarded for their dominance in the 56th minute as Mario Gomez stuck out a leg to divert Sami Khedira's cross past Allan McGregor.
However, Rangers were behind for only six minutes before Charlie Adam equalised with a superb curled effort following a mazy run from Alan Hutton.
Hutton was in the action again on 75 minutes as he won a penalty and Darcheville converted to clinch all three points for Rangers.
Rangers were handed a boost ahead of kick-off with the news that Barry Ferguson had been passed fit to play. The Gers skipper had been a doubt ahead of the match, after aggravating a knee injury in training, but took his place in the starting line-up much to the relief of the 49,795 fans at Ibrox.
But Rangers were under pressure in the opening minutes when Roberto Hilbert tried to pick out Gomez with a dangerous cross from the right. Carlos Cuellar intercepted but his clearance smacked off the post on the way out of play as nerves around the stadium jangled.
Ricardo Osorio then tested McGregor with a weak close-range effort before the Rangers goalkeeper appeared to be beaten by a drive from Gomez which fizzed across goal and wide.
At the other end, Ferguson was the provider for Steven Whittaker but his header dipped just over the crossbar from eight yards, failing to trouble Schafer in the Stuttgart goal.
Rangers gradually began to grow in confidence and Adam tried his luck with an ambitious half-volley from 35 yards, which fell just over the crossbar.
Then came Darcheville's moment of inspiration. He charged into the box, shrugging off the defenders bearing down on him from either side, only for Schafer to somehow keep his point-blank shot out of the net.
Rangers stunned by Gomez
There was concern for Rangers when Ferguson suffered a head knock and was forced out of the action for almost five minutes to receive treatment early in the second half, during which time Stuttgart took advantage of their extra man and surged into the lead.
Gomez demonstrated exactly why he was named Germany's player of the year last season by helping himself to the opener.
Khedira's pass may have initially been intended for Cacau but he remained static, while Gomez made the run before flicking past McGregor into the back of the net.
Undeterred, Rangers were soon back on level terms. Hutton's superb run took him past four red shirts before setting up Adam, who gleefully lashed past the helpless Schafer.
Stuttgart tried to hit back through Cacau but the Brazilian hitman was denied by the foot of McGregor, before Whittaker rifled wide at the other end.
Rangers were then gifted the lead when Italian referee Stefano Farina pointed to the spot after a clumsy challenge from Stuttgart skipper Fernando Meira on Hutton.
Darcheville stepped up to blast past Schafer from 12 yards, and Ibrox erupted as Rangers held on to secure a crucial victory on matchday one.
|Rangers||Team Statistics||VfB Stuttgart|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|5||Shots on Target||7|
|9||Shots off Target||9|